The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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“Jase!” A familiar voice called as Jase left the shop the following afternoon after his gym session. He turned to spot Reece crossing the road, closing the distance between them. “You spoke to McKinney the other day, didn’t you?” Jase narrowed his eyes. He didn’t care much for playground gossip.

“What’s it to you?” Reece’s brows twitched up,

“You heard what he’s been saying about you?” Jase rolled his shoulders,

“I suppose you’re going to enlighten me.”

“He told a few of my mates that you walked away from him, buckled.” Jase couldn’t help but smile, amused at the thought. “Obviously none of them believed him,” Reece said, quick to put him and his friends in the clear, “but I just figured to give you a heads up. The boy is really trying to muscle in on your name. It’s causing a stir; he keeps telling people you’re going soft and you’re not cut out for it anymore.” Reece shook his head, “Charlie’s the one that started that. Little twat’s been running his mouth off.” No one paid much mind to Charlie; he was always exaggerating things but the news had irked Jase.

“Charlie’s just shifting the attention from the fact he got his nose broken by a girl. As for McKinney, I’m not exactly worried about him. Let people talk, it’s cheap.” He shrugged one shoulder, putting the hand that wasn’t holding the bag in his pocket.

“True. I’ll let you know if I hear he’s planning anything.” Jase thanked Reece and got in his car.

Reece was only telling him because he preferred being on the winning side. He was nothing more than a clout chaser, but he had friends involved in everything so his information was often factual, even if most of the time, uninteresting. Tossing the bag on the passenger seat, he was already forming a plan to put McKinney in his rightful place, either a grave or at least, out of work.

Seven men were sat in the living room when he got back, including Adam, Sam and Benny. Just as Jase had ordered.

“What’s this about then?” Adam asked, his eyes fixated on the television screen as his thumbs flicked at the Xbox controller.

“McKinney’s piping up, saying we backed off. Reece mentioned he’s causing a stir with everyone by talking shit,” Jase replied from the kitchen, putting the bag on the side before joining them.

“What do you want to do about it?” Sam questioned; the game was now on pause. Jase smiled.

By the early hours of the following morning, they were watching the heat protruding off the fire that licked at the night sky. It caused a thin layer of sweat to surface on Jase’s forehead. The Leather Boot was engulfed in flames.

“Alright, come on,” Jase said, stepping back before turning and walking away, the others following suit. Although they’d checked for cameras and it was a stand-alone pub on a quiet road, their faces were still covered with bandanas and masks.

The pub paid Mitch for protection against people that used to frequent there for a fight. It said a lot about how much of a footprint he’d made if it was vandalised. A more prominent sign of disrespect than his pathetic flick of ash.

You were either with Ramon, or you were taken out, that’s how it worked.

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